From The Situation Room, Jonathan Turley calls out Tom Ridge's hackery from his appearance on Larry King. It was nice to see Turley point out that the
December 31, 2009

From The Situation Room, Jonathan Turley calls out Tom Ridge's hackery from his appearance on Larry King. It was nice to see Turley point out that the term Malveaux used, enhanced interrogations -- that she tossed out there so lightly, is torture. Unfortunately we don't have enough like Turley to counter all the talking head torture-lovers like Ridge, King, Hoekstra and Cheney.

MALVEAUX: I want to go to you, to Jonathan.

Clearly, there are some prominent Republicans who are looking at the situation about Mutallab being tried in a military tribunal situation, as opposed to the federal court system. And they want a military tribunal. They want to be able to question him, perhaps enhanced interrogations.

We heard this from the former Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge on "LARRY KING." I want you to take a listen.


TOM RIDGE: I take a look at this individual who has been charged criminally, does that mean he's going to get his Miranda warnings?

Does that mean the only kind of information we want to get from him is if he volunteers it. He's not a citizen of this country. He's a terrorist, and I don't think he deserves the full range of protections of our criminal justice system embodied in the Constitution of the United States.


MALVEAUX: What do you think about his point that he's making? Are we missing vital -- perhaps vital intelligence from Abdulmutallab on whether or not there are additional attackers who are out there?

JONATHAN TURLEY: I think that's very unlikely.

First of all, supposedly, he was speaking very freely for some time after his arrest. But what we know from the past, from the Bush torture program, is that it yielded very little information. Information it did yield was known to be highly suspect.

But it's not really about the information that you get from special interrogations, which is a nice way of saying torture. It is also not about what rights he deserves. What is really the question is what rights we have to give people to maintain our credibility around the world.

That is, the way the world viewed the Bush administration was that, well, George Bush often looked almost Caesar-like, sending some people to federal courts, some people to military tribunal. Some people got no trial at all.

In this case, we had Richard Reid, who was virtually identical in his act. He went to federal court. Zacarias Moussaoui went to federal court. And I think that it's a problem if we treat a legal system as sort of improvisational, that we simply go by case by case of what we feel someone should have in terms of rights.

The credibility of a legal system is its consistency. Without consistency, it lacks coherence. And I think what Mr. Ridge is saying that, when we really don't like you or we think that we might get some information out of you, then we won't give you the rights under our system.

And that creates the type of anger and, frankly, the view of hypocrisy that the United States has faced. But I think it's very unlikely. A military tribunal doesn't -- doesn't generate intelligence. It's not a way to generate any more intelligence than a federal trial is.

MALVEAUX: Peter, do you want to way in this or...

BERGEN: Well, I think in the Detroit case, he volunteered immediately that he got the device in Yemen, a rather big clue. That he was in contact with extremists in Yemen, a rather big clue.

You know, that was public information on Christmas Day, or maybe even perhaps the day after. And also, the idea that -- the other thing is, when you investigate a crime it's not simply what the suspect says. There's a whole forensic apparatus that goes with it. I mean, the kinds of chemicals that were used, those kinds of explosives, can we match it with other kinds of attacks? I mean, there's a whole rack of other things.

Even if the suspect says nothing, which is not true in this case, you know, saying that we have to put him in a military tribunal implies that there are no other ways of the United States getting information.

MALVEAUX: There's another debate, obviously, over the Gitmo detainees, whether or not they really should remain there. We know that about a half of the detainees there are Yemen -- Yemeni -- and that there is a possibility that they be sent back to Yemen.

There is a huge outcry now, not only from Republicans, but some prominent Democrats. This is from Senator Dianne Feinstein. She said this is a statement: "Guantanamo detainees should not be released to Yemen at this time. It is too unstable."

I spoke with a Yemeni spokesman yesterday to the embassy who said that things are very dire in his country right now, and there's a lot of debate in terms of where Abdulmutallab should go.

What is the best approach?

BERGEN: Well, look, the problem about Yemen is not simply that the government doesn't have much control over its own country. It doesn't have much control over its own prison system. And there have been two prison breaks by people involved in the USS Cole attack in Yemen in the past several years, and I think it's appropriate to maybe take a pause and just say, you know, is this the right time?

I mean, as a general principle, I think it's important that people be returned. But Yemen is a place which is -- that's the reason there are so many Yemenis still in jail.

You know, Saudi Arabia is a much more prosperous country with a much more -- much more ability to control returnees from Guantanamo. Yemen doesn't fit that bill.

TURLEY: Well, I think part of the problem is that we're also dealing with people who have never been given a trial. And we no that many of the people in Guantanamo Bay were not terrorists. At one time, we were offering thousands of dollars for anyone that could give us someone they said was a terrorist, and many of them ended up at Guantanamo Bay.

And so we need to be cognizant of the fact that a nation like ours can't hold people without a trial and retain our credibility. So, if we don't want to give them to Yemen -- there might be good reasons not to -- then we have got to try them. If we have evidence against them, then we need to try them, but we can't leave them in this place that no rights can penetrate.

MALVEAUX: We've got to leave it there.

Jonathan, Peter, thank you so much.

TURLEY: Thank you.

Transcript via CNN.

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